If you had to describe what success looks like, you might give a generic answer similar to that of a businessman in a suit and tie. Although this is a common perception of what we deem the word successful to look like — true success isn’t made in a corporate environment.
To become an entrepreneur, a person who creates and chases various business endeavours, your daily routine is less likely to revolve around a stagnant desk. Most entrepreneurs would instead describe their daily schedule as hectic, full of life and a constantly changing environment. This type of work is named “field” work where businessmen and women spend their time in the midst of all the action to get a real sense of their competitors and customers needs.
Take Richard Branson, founder of global gym brand, record store company, mobile provider and airplane carrier Virgin, for example. Branson is known for having a less than average daily routine where he prioritises surprise visits to his employees, drinking tea and being active. This field approach has allowed Branson to expand the Virgin brand to head all sorts of sub-companies that serve multiple sectors.
But don’t just take Branson’s word for it. Although living on your own private island is perhaps the epitome of success, there are another five important reasons why, no matter what type of business you conduct, your success as an entrepreneur will be limited if you spend too much time sitting in the office.
Conduct Covert Competitor Analysis
Sure, there are plenty of nifty tools and resources found online to help track your competitor’s performance. But while ranking on Google is highly important for your brand’s visibility, it can’t tell you everything about your rivals.
Physical experience still plays an important role in business success. That’s why despite the rise in online shopping and automation, shopping malls aren’t set to disappear anytime soon. It’s worth paying a covert visit to your competitor’s physical location to get a sense of what they’re offering in comparison to your current plans.
Does your competitor provide better customer service than you? Is there something about their store’s atmosphere that you prefer? What is your biggest advantage compared to them? What should you look to monopolise on going forward? Conducting this type of analysis every few weeks is an important practice that you shouldn’t scrap no matter how competitive the online market gets.
Always Aim to Meet in Person
Stop inviting important clients and business leads to your office. It can be great to conduct business in a place where you feel comfortable. Once in a while, it can be insightful for your closest contacts to experience your company culture. But if you always suggest meeting on your turf, this means that the meeting is on your terms and can quickly get boring or worse — be perceived as unfair by the other party.
It’s great to spend some time in the open. When possible, you should conduct business meetings in a neutral setting where both parties feel comfortable and on an equal footing. If you meet with the same person regularly, in the case of a long-term project, taking a stroll while discussing your agenda can get the conversation flowing. An outdoor meeting is a perfect environment for a spontaneous brainstorm. It’s a chance for your meetings to stop feeling stifled.
The newfound idea of a “walking meeting” was mentioned by Nilofer Merchant in her 2013 TED Talk, Got a Meeting? Take a Walk. This type of active meeting is proven to boost your creativity levels and enhance your exercise levels throughout the day if you’re too busy to squeeze in a regular gym session.
Spend Time with Your Staff
Not many CEOs choose to spend much time with their staff. Instead, top executives are notoriously described along with the phrase “sitting in your ivory tower”, meaning that they purposely exclude themselves from everyday office life.
This shouldn’t be the case. Success doesn’t have to go hand in hand with seclusion. To reach new heights in your business, it’s imperative that you understand the common pain points and quick wins that your front-end staff experience. Knowing this information can quickly convert into a strategy that is sure to resonate with your customers or be a simple solution to a recurring, age-old problem.
On the other hand, spending time with your staff ensures that you protect your company culture and maintain a respectable staff retention rate. The majority of employees would quit their job if they felt underappreciated. As such, setting aside a few minutes per day to value your team can be life-changing for your business. As a true entrepreneur, success shouldn’t be measured solely by monetary value. Creating a company culture that thrives off positive communication and a happy workforce is also a sign that you’re excelling in your role.
Networking is Necessary
You can’t grow your circle from the confines of the office cubicle. Although you can build a pretty impressive list of connections from your laptop via your LinkedIn account, building genuine business leads takes a little more effort.
Attending networking events or regular business meetup groups should be an integral part of your working week. By doing this, you will become a credible, known leader in your local field and open up opportunities that you might not have thought possible.
In short, it’s not enough to simply add someone to your friends list on social media. To build genuine business connections that have longevity at their core, you need to interact with individuals over a sustained period of time. Your job isn’t done until they consider you as a trustworthy, authoritative source. Time spent expanding your circle doesn’t have to take away from your work day either. Many business leaders choose to join a breakfast business group where they can meet other leaders before the nine to five begins.
Be Proactive, Not Reactive
Aspiring entrepreneurs who simply sit in the office waiting for big things to happen, always ending up just missing the mark. All of the positive attributes you might associate with an entrepreneur (confidence, intelligence, charisma, etc.) are wasted if the individual is not proactive. Proactivity is the single most important personality trait in order to become successful.
Having said this, proactivity and self-discipline can be difficult to practice. It takes a while to create positive habits and change your mindset. The good news is, there are plenty of handy tools that can help you to transition from your seat inside the office to your place in the outside world. These tools will help you to communicate more effectively so that you don’t feel guilty about leaving your peers and your office landline unattended. Using a virtual landline number relieves that pressure and allows you to take professional calls on the road.
Making use of technology is paramount if you’re going to survive as an entrepreneur in the modern marketplace. You need to be equipped with forward-thinking solutions that let you schedule a meeting in a single click and give you the freedom and flexibility to take some time out for field tasks. Utilising virtual systems, automation and the like allow you to step out of the office and not stray too far outside your comfort zone.